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Discussion Starter #1
I have a family member with a serious, seemingly intractable wine-binging problem. We have spent a great deal of time and money in counselling, rehab, with broken promises and threats to family stability, so I don't need advice on how to deal with the alcohol problem.

What I want to do is to recruit our 2 dogs (both of them mixed breeds) into the fight, by them letting me know when I arrive at home that said family member has acquired and hidden wine/alcohol in the house, at a given command or signal.

Having trained GSD's some years ago, and with a knowledge of classical conditioning techniques, I have some ideas, but would be very grateful for your insights and experience.
 

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Um...how I would go about this:
Get some alcohol(whatever you want the dogs to find I guess) and soak a cotton ball. Each time the dog so much as turns toward the cotton ball click and treat. Gradually, the dog will learn to indicate the cotton ball. Use "find" while doing this. After that, throw in other smells as a distraction. Once they are consistently indicating the alcohol when you say "find" make it harder. Hide a bottle under in easy open places at first. Work your way up to hiding it under the bed or in a cupboard. It might also be a good idea to teach the dog an indicating behavior such as barking, pawing, or sitting where they find the scent.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Interesting dilemna. What is the plan of action if the dog finds alcohol?
My guess is that you are worried about what the person will do about the dog finding the alcohol. My feeling is that no harm will be done, since the person and the dog/s are very close. Also, I have no intention of letting the person know that I am using the dog to locate the alcohol, although she is bound to catch on.

All alcohol, especially wine, has a very distinctive and strong scent. It will present no challenge to a dog trained to find it.

I have received a couple of PM's- thanks. Have to log off, but will follow up on Monday.
 

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My guess is that you are worried about what the person will do about the dog finding the alcohol. My feeling is that no harm will be done, since the person and the dog/s are very close. Also, I have no intention of letting the person know that I am using the dog to locate the alcohol, although she is bound to catch on.

All alcohol, especially wine, has a very distinctive and strong scent. It will present no challenge to a dog trained to find it.

I have received a couple of PM's- thanks. Have to log off, but will follow up on Monday.
My worry is how you're going to deal with the person who has the alcohol problem. I'm not sure this is the best way. When someone has resorted to sneaking around to hide their problem, then there's obviously a serious issue there. I'm not sure that sneaking around to uncover their sneaking around is the best solution. That's what I was getting at. Again, I don't know any of the specifics of your situation, so maybe you do need to catch this person sneaking around. I don't know.
 

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You'll have to be crafty with my suggestion.

You need to build a platform with vials you can fill with different scents, and space these vials across the platform. These vials need to be removable by both you and the dog, but can be individually locked in place. Can you see where I'm going?

You want to teach the dog to discriminate between scents. So, you want to teach the dog to retrieve the alcohol filled vial. You will set the dog up to succeed by locking the incorrect scents in place, but leave the alcohol filled vial loose for him to retrieve. You'll classically condition the scent with food, and reinforce correct retrievals.

From there it's a matter of expanding your criteria without the aid of the platform.
 

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Regardless of how much affection the subject has for the dog, I would be reluctant to put the dog in the middle of this particular family dynamic. Alcoholics and addicts can exhibit extreme behavior when something stands between them and their high. If the situation has gone that far down the road, I'd opt for the purchase of a personal breathalyzer and/or professional family intervention. A poisoned dog is not beyond the realm of possibility if an alcoholic begins viewing the dog as a threat. Alcoholics and addicts can rationalize absolutely anything.
 
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